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Christopher Reeve Foundation funds new paralysis peer program
(11-14-02)

Hundreds of Texans with spinal cord injuries will have a better quality of life, thanks to The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) and the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.

The foundation awarded Kathleen Lucke, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor of acute nursing care, a $12,500 grant to launch an interactive, expert peer program for paralyzed individuals.

The program matches newly injured patients with spinal cord injury veterans — mentors who have overcome their disabilities to lead productive and gratifying lives. Each participant is connected with an expert peer and a nurse via the Internet. "We will send each participant home with a computer and the equipment to use it and we will provide Internet access for the first six months after rehabilitation," Dr. Lucke said. "The expert peer will be able to tell newly injured people how to get connected with the right resources, and the expert peer will teach them they can still have a meaningful life." Participants also will have access to a Web site that includes chat rooms, discussion boards and links to spinal cord injury information and education.

The grant is part of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation's Quality of Life Program, spearheaded by Christopher Reeve's wife, Dana. "The Quality of Life grants program is proud to fund the critical work of The University of Texas Health Science Center as they help newly injured persons make the tremendous adjustment to life with a spinal cord injury," Dana Reeve said. "Their work underscores the importance of providing supportive services to people with spinal cord injuries."

The Web site and program will be fully functional in about six months. It will be available in English and Spanish, and Dr. Lucke said she hopes to expand the program nationally.

Contact: Amanda Gallagher or Aileen Salinas